Thursday, November 22, 2007

Phillip's Rangers

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Image from Mother Bedford

This is a bit of lore from Bedford County from back in the day when we were the wild frontier. Captain William Phillips and a small band of militia numbering a dozen in all were sent to Bedford County to quell an Indian uprising.

They marched on July 15, 1780, over Tussey Mountain and into into Woodcock Valley, finding nothing but deserted cabins. The settlers had already fled for safer ground. They chose one of the empty cabins to stay in overnight. Imagine their shock when they discovered in the morning that they were surrounded by a large band of warriors.

They didn't seem to know the Rangers were there at first, but eventually a shot rang out and the battle was joined. It was a fight the Rangers couldn't win, and Phillips went out to surrender after the cabin was set ablaze by flaming arrows. The deal was that they would lay down their arms if their lives were spared. But the Indians welshed on the bargain.

They separated Phillips and his son – they would be worth something in a trade – and a small party took them away. They eventually ended up as British POWs for the next two years. The Rangers, though, were tied to trees, cut open and tortured, and finally put to rest with arrows. It was a slow and savage way to die. A relief column led by Colonel John Piper cut the bodies down and buried them at the spot.

While building a monument in the 1930s for the men at the site of the massacre, 9 of the 10 bodies were found and interred in a common grave that was incorporated into the parklet dedicated to their memory.

It's said that they relive the anniversary of the slaughter, and the Rangers and Indians show up every year late at night on July 16 to continue their battle. There's also supposed to be a solitary black shadow that watches over the grave whose presence can be felt and sometimes seen. Is it Phillips? Is it the Ranger whose body they didn't find? No one knows for sure.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I would love to see this happen because some of those people that died that day are my ancestors....